Sustainability criteria for biofuels

Last checked on:
9 November 2021
Published on:
1 November 2021

Biofuels or liquid biomass must meet the European sustainability criteria. If they do so, they can count towards the Renewable Energy for Transport Annual Obligation.

Sustainibility systems

Businesses must show that they meet these European criteria. They can do this by using ‘sustainability systems for biofuels’ (certification systems). They can log these fuels in the Dutch Emissions Authority register.

In the Netherlands, all links in the biofuel production and commercial chain must be certified in the register by a sustainability system. The registration has to be made in register of NEA, including the sustainability certificate. This goes as far as the party that logs the fuel in the register. You can find an overview of accredited sustainability systems on the website of the European Commission.

Evidence of sustainibility

Do you log biofuels in the register maintained by the Dutch Emissions Authority? If you do, you  meet the annual obligation for the European sustainability criteria. To this end, a European accredited sustainability system must certify your business. The yearly obligations state the quantities and sustainability features of the fuels. For further information on the method of demonstrating compliance, see the Dutch Emissions Authority website.

European criteria for sustainibility

The sustainability system must, among others, ensure the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, such as the measured reduction in CO2 over the entire chain. For example, from raw material production to final use. When compared to fossil fuels, this must be at least 50%. Since 1 January 2018, this has been a minimum of 60% for operational systems on or after 1 January 2017. These requirements became more strict with an update of  the legislation (RED2) in June 2021.

Besides the requirements for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, biofuels and liquid biomass must meet these requirements:

  • The biomass may not originate from an area with a high biodiversity value such as primary forest, protected nature areas and grasslands with high biodiversity.
  • The biomass may not come from lands with high carbon stock such as wetlands and permanently forested areas. This also applies to peatlands unless demonstration shows that biomass production does not lead to the dewatering of soil that was not dewatered before. In this regard, the status of the ground in January 2008 is the baseline.

Calculating greenhouse gas emissions

The BioGrace tools for greenhouse gas can help you calculate greenhouse gas emissions in bioenergy production chains. Two tools are available:

  1. BioGrace-I for biofuels,
  2. BioGrace-II for electricity, heat and cooling from biomass. 

See BIOGRACE for more information.

Commissioned by:
  • Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy
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